How to work a job fair – game day

In this Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, photo, job seekers line up to meet prospective employers during a career fair at a hotel in Dallas. The government issues the January jobs report on Friday, Feb. 7. 2014. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
In this Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, photo, job seekers line up to meet prospective employers during a career fair at a hotel in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

So, you have done all your research on the companies.  You have your hit-list for the job fair.  You are smiling and ready to be nice to everyone.  Now what?

This might seem silly but few people do it.  Usually you want to go to your hit-list companies that don’t have a line first.  But be sure to pay attention to the companies around them.  Is there a competitor there?  As a recruiter at a job fair I would try to keep an eye on my competitors and I would want to talk to the people they seem interested in or that look like good candidates in their line.  Keep that in mind when working the fair.  You don’t want to play them off one another but it is OK to let one company know that their competitor is interested in you, just do it tactfully.

So you ask “what does a good candidate look like?”  The short answer is “it depends.”  Generally I would look for someone who seems to have their crap together.  This is where body language really comes into play.

  • Wear clothes that look professional and fit you well.  Fit is more important that the cost of the clothes.  Don’t try to be too trendy, unless that fits with the company’s culture.  You want to be comfortable in them.
  • Try to just have one binder or some type of pad-folio.  You don’t want to have to fumble around for a resume.  Also, try to just take in one car key.  You do not need to take your janitor-worthy key chain with you.
  • Look professional, not like you are going out.  Also, be sure to shave guys or at least trim up the facial hair.  Ladies, keep the make-up minimalistic.   No strong perfume or cologne and please for the love of everyone no patwoe oil.  Yes, I know it is spelled patchouli but saying pa-two-E sounds more like the smell.  :)
  • If you have dress shoes on, shine them.  Yes, we notice these things.
  • Also, be sure to have a pen with you.

Be sure you have your elevator speech ready.  What type of position are you interested in and why?  What do you know about the company?  What is your background? Be ready for some of the questions you get when talk to the company reps.

Try to get their contact information (business card) or at least their name.  It is a great idea to write thank you emails after the job fair.  I, personally, also like it when people stop back by as they are leaving to say thanks and they look forward to hearing from us.

ALWAYS ask what the next step is.


If you continuously compete with others you become BITTER.  But if you continuously compete with yourself you become BETTER.